Be Positive, Don’t Be Negative

This is not really a cube article, but a general Magic/life article.

I used to go to a local gaming store (LGS) to play magic quite a bit. On average I would go ~2+ times a week, pretty much only to play limited since I never played constructed because of cost-of-entry. (I.e., the deck.) I love limited in all its forms, even “bad” formats like triple Dragon’s Mage, triple AVR, whatever, I did not care; as long as I was playing, I was happy. Magic is a fun game to me and limited puts everyone on an even playing field, so I could compete for the same low cost of entry, get some rares out of it during the post-draft rare draft, and most of the people there were awesome. The owner was/is great too!

The competition at my local store was top-notch as well, so that was cool. We had several players who had gone to a pro-tour, and many other players who I strongly believe could compete at the highest level if they could afford to go to the sheer number of official tournaments that takes. Games were complex and interesting and if I won I truly felt like I earned that W. I like to win like anyone else, but truly competing and getting better is what my general goal and my main mantra is in regards to Magic and life. I like to have fun, and I like to compete.

So, why don’t I go to that store any more?

The answer: general negativity of some of the “good” players, outright asshole behavior towards not just the adults but some of the kids too, and no oversight for any of these problems.

At first this was not really an issue. Other than one or two guys, everyone at the store was pretty positive, and with those few guys you could just shrug it off. But then bigger assholes started to come, guys who were disgruntled because they were good and not great and liked to let you know how much better they were than you All. The. Time. Week after week I would come back, and week after week I dealt with utter bullshit. And that type of personality will wear you out if you just want to have fun.

I was insulted, outright treated like garbage despite being polite and accommodating to anyone despite any of their qualities. Anyone who has interacted with me in person can say that I treat everyone with respect and kindness, because that’s what I want. Language was thrown around that I wouldn’t dream of saying around children, and not just F-Bombs or “shit”s or whatever—literal N-Bombs, C-Bombs, just outright disgusting language. And let’s be clear here, I am no choir boy, but there are certain lines in public you cannot cross. Children would be in the room, like actual 12 and 13 year olds, and these guys would throw this around without any reservation. It was disgusting.

The worst part? Nothing was ever done.

Week after week these assholes would talk with poison on their tongues, bringing the mood of the room down, complaining about everything and really sucking the fun out of the GAME. This was not a sentiment I shared alone. My close friends who also went to the store grew tired of the bullshit as well. People I sorta knew from the store would give “am I really being seen out in public with these assholes?” looks to these fuck-heads when they would be spitting vitrol, and I could see the love of the game leave their eyes. Instead of Magic at the store being about Magic, it turned into a question of whether the game was worth the environment.

Are these the types of people I share my hobby with? If I wanted to introduce my friend to the game and bring him to a store for competition, can I actually in good conscious bring him somewhere that allows this type of behavior by doing nothing? The owner is a great guy, and has a lot going for him, but week after week I’d hear the language, give him a look, and he would sit there doing nothing. How can I go somewhere that encourages that type of shitty behavior with inaction? Maybe I could’ve played community cop, but why is the owner of the store sitting there allowing it? The guy was a paying customer, sure, but is the reputation of your store worth less than the money he puts into your pocket?

It has been at least a year since I’ve been to the store. Parts of me feel bad about abandoning the store as I hear it’s doing less-well and that sucks. Parts of me miss the guys I made good friendships with at the store. Parts of me really miss playing Magic in a true competitive environment that was accessible since it was the town over.

But ZERO parts of me miss the negativity. ZERO parts of me miss going to a store and being insulted or put down. ZERO parts of me miss the embarrassment of playing a game with guys who would talk like the scum of the earth. Each week I would ask the question “Is paying for live Magic worth the shitty local environment where it’s done?” and soon that answer always became “NO”.

Now? I play at my friends’ houses with my friends only. I play with people who treat me with decency, all the while still competing at what I feel is a high level. And if someone proves to be a dick, they don’t come back.

I hope I am not the only one who feels this way, but I do not have time to waste with people who clearly don’t like me or seemingly anyone for that matter. I do not have time to waste with people who are continually negative or insulting. There is nothing funny or fun about being an asshole. There is nothing cool by acting like you’re better than everyone else. (Also: you aren’t. Only a small percentage of players are, and they are typically the nicest. Learn something from them!) You know what people like? Kindness. Respect. Not putting others down. Laughing. Having FUN.

So, ask yourself: when I play, do I need to assert myself as the best? Am I truly being positive? Am I having fun by playing, and if I’m not winning am I a grumpy gus? Are you acting the way you want to be treated?

I’ve been planning this article for a couple years but didn’t write it because I was more angry than anything about how I was treated. Now that the personal emotional dust has settled, I feel sort of empty and numb. Instead of being mad at the owner for letting the store devolve into a negative atmosphere, I feel relief that I am no longer there dealing with it. And maybe the store is better now, but I do not have time to be burned like that again. I would not feel good if I went back and felt more of the same, and for too long that was the MO of the store.

So remember: the key to magic is being NICE. When you are NICE, people want to play with you, people want to be around you, and people don’t feel sick of being in your presence. And if you’re not nice, well…don’t be surprised if your presence hurts your local store.